NEWINGTON – As families put turkeys in the oven and make special touches on all the trimmings the morning of Thanksgiving, one neighborhood will gather outdoors for an annual tradition.
Those who live around Eagle Park in Newington (also known as Eagle Lantern) take to the streets before the big meal to collect money, books and food for poor families in town.
The 9th annual Thanksgiving Turkey Trot is set for Thursday, Nov. 28 at 9 a.m., to benefit Newington Human Services. Nearly a decade in the making, the event takes place in rain, shine or snow.
Last year, it was a sunny day but temperatures were well below freezing. Other years it’s been slushy and slippery and every sort of weather. Organizers say the cause is too important to ignore, no matter what the skies have in store.
“It’s very meaningful for us,” Newington High School senior Elena Joseph said.
She and fellow student Riley Jackson took on the 2019 event as their National Honor Society Project, a requirement for members of the esteemed academic club.
The teens both live in the Eagle Park neighborhood and have been participating in the Turkey Trot since they were young. It was only logical for them to step up to lead it when they reached their senior year.
“Every single year in our neighborhood we would come on Thanksgiving Day and join the community,” Joseph explained. “So we decided, why not? Let’s take initiative to organize it this year.”
“It wasn’t originally a National Honor Society project, but about four years ago members took it over and have run it each year since,” Jackson added.
Last year the crew raised $2,000 and delivered two carloads of books and food to the town.
The girls created a flyer promoting the event, with a map on the back showing the Trot’s two-mile route. Then they distributed it on streets surrounding the park, located in the northwestern section of town off of Reservoir Road.
After the event they plan on sorting and delivering donations to Newington Town Hall. Human Services Director Carol LaBrecque and her staff will have just completed their Thanksgiving Food Distribution and have begun preparations for the Holiday Food and Gift Drives, which take place before Christmas. They will also need to restock the Food Bank for eligible households.
“We are so thrilled with this project,” LaBrecque said. “It typically comes in after our shelves have been depleted and greatly assists us in replenishing and being able to buy specific items we may be low on. These neighbors came together on an issue, identified a way of solving it and are doing just that. It’s a great example of community action and involvement and the spirit of folks who live in Newington.”
For Joseph and Jackson, Turkey Day wouldn’t be the same without the Turkey Trot. Some walk, some run, others bike or ride scooters. Relatives, friends and several teachers in town typically join the group.
“It’s just a way to thank our community for shaping who we are today, but also give back to those who may need it,” Joseph said.
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you go:
WHAT: The 9th annual Turkey Trot
WHEN: Thanksgiving Day at 9 a.m.
WHERE: Eagle Park, Newington